Australian Politicians and Governments on Twitter

Australian politicians and government departments have cottoned on to Twitter. When departments and politicians (and others) dip their big toe into social networks, they are often oblivious to the implicit “ground rules” that exist inside the big, wide world of social networks.

Government departments and politicians need to prepare a plan and strategy before they engage in social networks. I have noticed that the two biggest challenges faced by organisations entering into social networks are:

Not being prepared for the negative comments and conversations that will, inevitably, arise.
Of course positive comments will arise, but these are easier to handle. Organisiations should plan their strategies for responding to "negative" comments and conversations.

Not understanding that social networking is a two-way channel.
Many organisations engage in social networks by "shouting" out communications, but not listening and responding to the community’s comments and reactions.

A couple of recent examples highlight the risks surrounding these two issues: NAB's My Future Bank experiment and BigPond's entrance onto Twitter.

Here's a quick round up and analysis of some Australian politicians and government organisations in Twitter:

Malcolm Turnbull (Leader of Australia’s Liberal Party)
Joined twitter 13 October 2008.
Early on, Turnbull didn't follow any of his followers. This was a mistake which was quickly rectified and he now follows his followers. Turnbull now also responds to @TurnbullMalcolm tweets, so they are starting to get it right. @TurnbullMalcolm tweets approximately 3 - 4 tweets a day.

KevinRudd (Australia’s Prime Minister)
Joined twitter 11 November 2008.
Orginally used an auto-follow to follow his followers and was criticised for being robotic. @KevinRuddPM began by only tweeting about what the PM was doing. However, @KevinRuddPM recently started engaging more and reponding to @KevinRuddPM tweets. @KevinRuddPM is overt about the fact that it is not the PM actually tweeting - tweets are signed off with "#KevinPM Team". Tweets approximately once a day.

The Greens Party (Australian political party)
Joined twitter 13 August 2008.
@GreensMPs tweet links to their website. Huge volume of tweets which border on spamming frequency (19 tweets on 25th November 2008). @GreensMPs rarely responds to questions or comments from other twitterers. I'm a supporter of the Greens Party and would really like to see this twitter account blossom into a successful two-way communication channel.

Mosman Council (A municiple council in Sydney, Australia)
Joined twitter 18 August 2008
A great example of grass roots, authentic twittering. @mosmancouncil tweets about what is happening within the council area. Regularly responds to @mosmancouncil comments or questions. I was impressed with @mosmancouncil openess and full disclosure when they tweeted "we're following people who have mentioned 'mosman' - if you're not comfortable with that, let us know... otherwise your feedback appreciated". Tweets approximately once a day.

I don't know of any state or federal Australian government departments currently active in Twitter. Please let me know if you do.

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Ben said...


its been a struggle but I think that the federal dept's are certainly much more aware of twitter and the potential... right now ours is grappling with what exactly they should do with it.. if anything. I can only continue to raise awareness as to its beauty :)

Suze Ingram said...

Hey Ben,

I agree with you! Raising awareness is really important at this stage. Hey! Have you considered calling yourself the resident "Twittervangelist"? Hehe ;)

Craig Thomler said...

Hi Suze,

The Project is also using Twitter to broaden the reach of their blog.

Unfortunately I'm not aware of any other government agencies in Australia making use of the medium, though I've blogged about how it is being used by government in the US.